Title: Dragon Daughter
Author: Liz Flanagan (@lizziebooks)
Illustrator: Angelo Rinaldi (Website)
Publisher: David Fickling (@dfb_storyhouse)
Page count: 368
Date of publication: 2nd May 2019 (Paperback)
Series status: N/A
Perfect for Year 5, Year 6 and Year 7.
1. Dragons 🐉
2. Island 🏝️
3. Secrets 🤐
The DRAGONS were lost and forgotten until NOW…
Milla sees a man murdered and finds herself caring for the last four dragon eggs. Forced to keep them secret amidst the growing tensions on the island of Across, Milla must fight to save the dragons and everything that their return stands for.
Fiery friendships, forgotten family and the struggle for power collide as Milla’s battle for freedom leads her to uncover her own hidden past.
I’m so pleased to welcome Liz Flanagan to The Reader Teacher today where she answers my questions all about Dragon Daughter including its recent award-winning success; her reading and writing influences and sharing teacher resources for her incredible book!
Dragon Daughter (5)
- At The Reader Teacher, for my reviews, I describe books in #3Words3Emojis.
Which 3 adjectives and 3 corresponding emojis would you choose to best describe Dragon Daughter?
1. Friendship 👫
2. Fiery 🔥
3. Dragons! 🐉
- What books, people, research, ideas and inspirations have helped you to write Dragon Daughter?
Dragon Daughter wasn’t an easy book for me to write. I kept getting stuck and putting it aside, and I must have done about 20 drafts, especially of the second half of the book. In one of my stuck phases, I started writing Eden Summer, which became my debut novel, but I couldn’t give up on Dragon Daughter!
It wasn’t till I was working with my editor Rosie Fickling, that I managed to see clearly enough and get the story finished in a way that would suit middle-grade readers. So it was her vision and love of the story that really inspired me and helped me to write it.
I love books about dragons. I wasn’t consciously thinking about any in particular when I was writing it, but I’m sure that Anne McCaffrey’s and Ursula LeGuin’s dragons must have filtered into my teenage brain and come out in the writing of Dragon Daughter, and I can definitely see the influence of American fantasy writer Tamora Pierce.
I’ve got a much clearer and more specific spark for the sequel, which I’m writing now – a documentary about the tunnels under a particular European city. More of that soon!!
- What was the most enjoyable part of writing Dragon Daughter?
I loved writing the hatching scene! It was a joy to write, and for this chapter at least the words came tumbling out. It’s also the part I love reading aloud the most now. Milla – and the reader! – has had to wait quite some time before she finally gets to meet her dragon, but I hope it was worth it.
- Firstly, I think a big congratulations is in order. Well done on Dragon Daughter winning the Leeds Book Award and the Calderdale Book of the Year recently. What is it about Dragon Daughter do you think that has made it so successful with children?
Thank you so much! I was so delighted about these awards, not only because they’re in my local region, but also because the children voted for Dragon Daughter. That’s what authors dream of!
I love hearing directly from readers and learning what they’ve enjoyed. So far it seems to be:
- The characters, especially Milla
- The dragons, and choosing which colour dragon is their favourite
- The exciting adventure, even if it gets slightly scary at times
- If you were to choose the character that is most like you from Dragon Daughter, who would it be and why?
Ah, I wish I could say Milla, but she is what I wish I were like, so resilient and resourceful and courageous. I’m probably more like Isak – he knows what the right thing is, but it takes him a while to do it!
Reading and Writing (4)
- What first attracted you to writing? Did you enjoy writing at school?
I loved writing at school. We had an amazing teacher in Year 4 who gave us wonderful writing prompts and I first noticed how time could disappear while I was writing. I still remember a long story about a pink flying horse, so maybe things haven’t changed so much after all! I lost my writing confidence in my later teens and twenties, and didn’t start writing again till I had my own children. For a while the stories I was writing were definitely aimed at the age of my eldest daughter, but now they’re teenagers, I think I’ll stay away from writing YA for a while: my girls don’t need me trying to write teens while they’re busy being them.
- Which parts of writing do you find energise you and which parts do you find exhaust you?
I love the energy and excitement of a first draft, but it is also quite nerve-racking – is this a story? Can I write it? But it’s also a real journey of discovery, getting to know the characters and what they want. I’ve learned to let myself create what I call a ‘dirty first draft’ and trust that I can come back and polish it up later. I have come to enjoy editing, but I always get daunted just before a new round of edits. Then, once I’ve got stuck in, it’s very satisfying.
- When you were a child, can you remember contacting authors or any of them ever visiting your school and if so, did this inspire you?
I don’t remember any authors visiting our school. I didn’t realise that ordinary people could be authors. I met Berlie Doherty on an Arvon course when I was seventeen, and she read from the unfinished manuscript of Dear Nobody and actually asked for our opinions on it. That blew me away!
- Currently, we seem to be living in a golden age of books, especially that of children’s literature. Can you recommend any other children’s books to children (and adults!) who may be interested in similar themes explored in your book or any that you would recommend?
I know, I am loving the feast of amazing books being published for this age group & I’m constantly gobbling up middle-grade novels. Recent ones I’ve loved are: Fire Girl, Forest Boy by Chloe Daykin for its adventure, wonderful setting and the cutest animal with an unlikely name; The Storm Keeper’s Island by Catherine Doyle for great characters and a spellbinding mix of magic and real life; Sky Chasers by Emma Carroll for pace, excitement and a brilliant protagonist; The Boy at the Back of the Class by Onjali Rauf for friendship, hope and characters you’d like to be friends with; The Good Thieves by Katherine Rundell for courageous characters, fabulous plot and beautiful writing; and The Girl Who Speaks Bear by Sophie Anderson for its brilliant protagonist, another adorable animal character and more gorgeous writing you could read all day.
Dragon Daughter and Teaching (3)
- If you were to ‘pitch’ Dragon Daughter in a sentence for teachers to use it in their classrooms or for parents to choose to read it at home, how would you sum it up?
In this exciting fantasy adventure, servant girl Milla witnesses a murder and finds herself caring for the last four dragon eggs, but as unrest spreads across the island of Arcosi, who can she trust?
- Could you suggest ways in which Dragon Daughter could be used in the classroom for the many teachers and primary school staff that will read this and wish to use it in their schools?
In my school visits I’ve been doing workshops showing some wild and wonderful mythical creatures from around the world, then inviting children to imagine their own beautifully coloured egg and what might hatch from it.
A teacher friend of mine, Susan Williams, very kindly created some classroom resources and lesson plans, some focusing on life cycles, and also using the idea of dragon eggs as story prompts for descriptive writing. She’s created some free downloadable lesson plans, on the subjects of hatching dragons / descriptive writing / dragon eggs, which are available here: http://lizflanagan.co.uk/dragon-daughter-teacher-resources
The story also has themes of migration and tolerance, which can be used for discussions of those subjects in a fantasy-based way.
- For those teachers reading this Q&A and would like to enquire about arranging the opportunity of a school visit from yourself, how would it be best to contact you regarding this?
That would be wonderful! Please contact me via lizflanagan.co.uk/contact, or you could also book via Authors Aloud: https://authorsalouduk.co.uk/speaker/liz-flanagan/
Two more before you go (2)!
- What has an interviewer or blogger never asked you before, that you always wished you could answer?
An interviewer hasn’t asked me, but children always do: what kind of dragon would I have?
I think the answer is Iggie, Milla’s dragon. He’s lapis blue, loyal, small and fragile to begin with, and huge and fire-breathing by the end.
- Finally, can you share with our readers something about yourself that they might be surprised to learn?
I always talk in my school visits about how long it took me to become an author:
10 years + 2 unpublished novels + 20 drafts of Dragon Daughter = All worth it!
One last one… (1)!
- Do you have a question you would like to ask the readers of The Reader Teacher?
What do you wish authors knew before they came into school – if you can narrow it down!! – and what kinds of resources do you find most helpful on authors’ websites?
Thank you so much Liz for taking the time to answer my questions!
Thanks so much Scott, I really appreciate all your support!
The very lovely people at David Fickling have kindly given me ONE paperback copy of Dragon Daughter to give away!
If you’d like to be in with a chance of winning this copy, simply retweet (RT) this tweet!
Huge thanks to Liz, Liz and all at David Fickling for inviting me to host this Author Q&A with Liz and a giveaway!
Extra thanks to Liz for answering my questions with her brilliant answers!